Continuously impressed by Norwegian entrepreneurs, we’re proud to welcome three new founders to the byFounders Collective: Christine Spiten, Lasse Andresen and Karl Munthe-Kaas. As active members of our fund, they will support the new generation of Nordic and Baltic founders and startups.
To co-founder of Kolonial.no, Karl Munthe-Kaas, byFounders’ focus on Norway is no wonder: “For the past five years, we’ve seen a revolution in the Norwegian startup ecosystem, both in the sheer number of companies and in the collective culture. I think it’s very positive that we’re seeing a lot of new startups with considerable potential.”
ForgeRock co-founder Lasse Andresen agrees, and happily observes the increasing amount of scalable tech companies from the country:
“Traditionally we’ve had a lot of consultancies without any particular IP and thus limited potential for international growth. There’s no doubt that we’re witnessing a shift here, with exciting companies like Halodi, Disruptive Technologies and Cogite emerging.”
For Christine Spiten, co-founder of Blueye Robotics, it’s the values of Norwegian startups that stand out: “It seems like we’re starting to understand how value-driven entrepreneurship can be connected to our foremost competitive advantages and used to solve some of the biggest challenges facing us globally.”
According to Andresen, the “law of Jante” was still standing strong in Norway when he started ForgeRock nine years ago: “Going from a full-time position to becoming an entrepreneur back then was not a well-regarded move. Since then, the level of activity and not least productivity and creativity has become that much higher. The difference is really like night and day.”
But quantity doesn’t necessarily equate quality. The ecosystem needs to be constructed in a methodical and strategic way, with a strong base layer of capital and competence. “At the moment it feels a bit like the tracks are being laid while the train is in motion. Avoiding too many derailments calls for a strong environment of capital providers able to lift the companies with big capital requirements.” says Munthe-Kaas.
This is exactly the reason Munthe-Kaas opted to join the byFounders Collective: “byFounders is a super strong network of experienced founders, one that I am proud to be part of. I believe it’s of the essence that we build networks like these in order to take startups to the next level.”
The breadth of experiences and insights is also what Spiten highlights: “byFounders has managed to gather founders in an informal yet focused forum in which exciting investment opportunities can be evaluated drawing on the collective expertise from widely different industries. This lends both strength and confidence to the decision making process.”
For Lasse Andresen, the international focus was what stirred his interest in byFounders. “Based in both the Nordics and Silicon Valley, they are in a perfect position to help Nordic companies build international networks. Having lived in Silicon Valley for the past seven years, I’ve benefited greatly from the strong “pay-it-forward” culture we have here. I’d love to be able to spread this mentality to Norway. Lastly, this is a way for me to stay on top of what’s happening on the tech scene in my home country.”
byFounders was established in 2017 with the objective of providing a kind of “smart money” that was less accessible in the Nordics back then. A lack of experience on both sides of the table can lead to bad deals that don’t benefit the founder, and thus neither the investors in a long-term perspective.
This may have contributed to weakening the competitiveness of Nordic startups, like Johan Brand recently put the spotlight on in his blog post: https://www.byfounders.vc/insights/the-cap-table-problem-in-the-nordics
Founding partners Eric and Tommy wanted to gather people who had experience starting and scaling their own companies with a shared wish to share their experiences with a new generation of founders. This became the start of byFounders — a fund for founders, “byFounders”.
In addition to investing in the fund, members of the byFounders Collective contributes to our deal flow and due diligence, while working actively with our portfolio companies who benefit from their competences, experience and network. When it’s relevant, members of the Collective can take on board seats on behalf of the fund. Many of them are also active angel investors and sometimes invest in parallel with byFounders, when it’s in the interest of both parties.
We hope the addition of three new members of the Collective means we’ll see even more strong Norwegian founders going forward:
“The byFounders Collective is one of our most important sources of high quality deal flow. Through Christine, Karl, Lasse and Johan, we believe we’ll get an even stronger connection to the Norwegian ecosystem, which we are very intrigued by at the moment,” highlights Tommy Andersen, Managing Partner, byFounders
Co-founder of recently IPO'd Kahoot, Johan Brand, was the first Norwegian to join our Collective. At our byFounders Summit in August 2019 he talked about why: